Direct Relief Named Best Charity of 2015

author pic 5Charity Navigator recently released their Top 10 list of the Best Charities Everyone Has Heard Of and to no surprise, each of the nominees are an example of superior marketing and brand recognition. For the 5th year in a row, Direct Relief has held the coveted #1 spot with an overall grade of 99.94.

This medical relief nonprofit is a trusted organization that works to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies.  If they had a specialty, it would be delivering aid and assets in a timely manner towards disaster relief. Direct Relief’s longstanding approach of supporting locally-run facilities providing essential health services is a key strategy in 72 countries, including the U.S.

Another great charity on the list is the Catholic Medical Mission Board.  In 5th place, this foundation describes its self a faith-based nonprofit committed to improving the lives of women and children in disadvantaged communities.

Dropping out of the top 10 is Pregnancy International.  This respected organization was created to aid women in trying to get pregnant fast in a safe, naturally effective manner.  Since moving their main headquarters to South America, they’ve lack the marketing in the States to really get the large corporate donations of years past.  Their CEO, Mark Piatto, has said his organization is re-invested in the American demographic in 2016 and we should all look forward to more marketing and brand awareness.

The rest of the nonprofits that made the list are:

1 – Direct Relief 99.94
2 – MAP International 99.92
3 – Samaritan’s Purse 98.79
4 – Catholic Medical Mission Board 97.63
5 – United Nations Foundation 96.98
6 – The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International 96.31
7 – The Conservation Fund 95.82
8 – Compassion International 95.33
9 – United States Fund for UNICEF

Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Charity Navigator Rating   United States Fund for UNICEF

Think Like A Big Brand

It’s recently been announced that American Express has notified all cardholders that their co-branded Costco credit cards that they’ve used at Costco for 15 years will immediately be discontinued later this year. You can check out a this Costco credit card review here for more details.  Anyways, while this news is not the most exciting thing to come out of the credit world, what is interesting is in the manner in which Costco stood it’s ground to part ways.

You see, Costco was seeking more favorable terms from AmEx, but AmEx said they couldn’t reach a new agreement with Costco that “would have made economic sense” for their company. In other words, AMEX wasn’t going to meet the heavy demands requested by Costco.

So why would Costco make such big demands? Well, because they could.

Costco knows their value in the consumer chain and knows their strength in the marketplace. Costco brought in over 8% of the total revenue to AMEX and financial analysts project that number could have doubled in the next 10 years.

Costco stood up for itself, and in the end won their terms, in a new partnership with Visa.

At a recent workshop, I spoke on the topic of Brand Awareness and the Burden of Loyalty, and I brought up the broken partnership between AMEX and Costco. I reminded everyone that your expectation as a small business owner should be that every 5 years all business partnerships should be re-evaluated to ensure you are still receiving the service or product that meets your specific needs. You owe this to yourself, and to your customer base.


Finding Your Niche. Make It Count

I recently spoke to a friend of mine who seems to think all digital marketing agencies will soon need to “niche down” to really take hold of specific segments of a broader market. It won’t take long to understand that there are already agencies that cater to a very niche audience such as gym owners, wedding seo or publisher marketing.

So what does that mean for today’s smart and modern marketer?

Understanding your audience is more important than ever. But even more important is knowing what services your audience is wanting.

When I first started my MBA in 1984, I could never have fathomed that most of the tried and classic Sales strategies would fall wayside to the fast pace of the digital marketing landscape.  All the core concepts of decades past are non-relevant to tapping into the psychic of consumers in 2016.

Diving deep down into a broad industry will uncover many untapped facets of marketable audiences begging for service and insight. Look past the safety net of volume searches and really make your brand the prominent service provider in one given single niche.

Instead of going after lawyer seo, niche down into Spanish speaking tax lawyers or a similar specific audience.

niche downWhen you niche down, you ultimately pay more attention to a very select group of clients and really begin to understand what makes their business flow. Find their pain points and address each one individually.

If you offer SEO services, branch out to offer video SEO or content marketing.

Make it count!

5 Brand Videos You Should Know About

Today we are sharing five awesome brand videos that go into the detailed intricacies of what makes a brand a “brand” and how the way you market yourself is in direct correlation of how the public unknowing perceives you.

Building value without sacrificing your intended integrity is the fine line we walk on a daily basis.

Trying to remain relevant in the fast-pace online environment is not a race, but a journey.

Your logo is important, but did you know it’s not as important as your audience?

This video goes into detail about personal branding and bringing it over to a corporate perspective.

One of my favorites. Answering the questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask.

If any of you have any other videos we should add to our next round-up please send them over to and I’ll make sure to give you credit when we share.

New Member Sign-ups Coming Soon

author pic 2As we get into 2016, it’s time to start thinking about our fundraising efforts and re-elections of key positions on our volunteer Brand board.  Each of our current officers have done a remarkable job of steeping our efforts in the right direction and we’re surely sad to seem some of them go.  The maximum amount of time a member can serve on our board is 2 years.  With that being said, we are truly excited to announce that we will have 5 new seats available in this years vote.

To be eligible, members must be in good standing with our committee and all dues must be current. Members who have served once in the past 4 years are non-eligible.  Members who have been a full member for less than 1 year are also ineligible.

The positions we will have open are: Treasure, Membership Director, Compliance and Regulation and Comptroller Analyst. We will also be introducing a new board role of Social Media Manager.  Each position is non-paid, but will gain you free access to any conference hosted by our Company.

I’ve been on the board for about 9 months and I can honestly say it’s been one of the most fulfilling professional experiences of my life.  Through this position, I’ve been able to make life-long connections with people I would have never been able to conversate much less meet face to face.  It’s been life-changing and I urge all members who qualify to throw their hat in the ring.  You won’t regret it!

Book Club Event Coming Up – Brand Awareness

author photo 3First of all, a big thank you to all the people who attended last night’s Brand awareness meet up. Over 60 people attended (by far our largest group) and conversation was flowing and connections were being made.

One of the most talked about parts of the entire night was the Top 6 marketing books that our group put together for our upcoming Brand Book Club.

As mentioned over the next 6 weeks, beginning on January 4th, we will be covering 1 book a week that caters to taking an existing brand to the next level in respect to awareness and trust recognition.  Each week will be a different topic and we will meet back up to discuss how each strategy and tactic relates to the non-profit or charity business.  We did something similar early last year and it was a great success, so I decided to start the book club back up.  I hope many of you do decide to participate and I’m looking forward to all of your insights and comments.  Below are the first six books we will be reading and discussing in order.


Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands
Debbie Millman

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
Al Ries & Laura Ries

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits
Debbie Millman

How Brands Become Icons
Douglas Holt

The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design
Marty Neumeier

Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People
Marc Gobe

Each member who reads all six books and participates in our meetups will be entered into a drawing to attend the ANA Brand Masters Camp in 2016. We will pay for your ticket admission each day and set you up in a hotel at the official conference. Last year a group of 8 of us went and it was honestly a huge turning point in confirming we are all on the right path to brand engagement.

All members, new and old are eligible to win.